There are a number of Cisco wireless solutions available to the small and medium sized business (SMB) market. This article reviews the currently available solutions, features and options available to the SMB market.
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There are two major categories for most wireless devices: wireless access points and wireless routers. Cisco is no different. They provide different wireless solutions from both of these categories. Wireless access points provide a device that is able to terminate wireless connections from clients and connect them together, and if needed, connect them to other wired devices. Wireless routers are able to provide the same capabilities as the wireless access points and provide a separate interface to be connected to another network, which is typically a connection leading to the Internet. These wireless routers have additional capabilities (with this separate interface) that allow it to perform NAT, security (firewall or IPS), and VPN functionality securely with a public network.
Cisco’s SMB products seem to be focused on businesses which have outgrown the standard SOHO routers (think Linksys and Dlink), but still cannot justify the cost of going to an enterprise grade wireless solution. The following sections discuss Cisco’s current access point and wireless router products and features.
There are six major devices which are currently being offered by Cisco under their SMB access point banner. These include:
- WET200 (Bridge)
- AP541N "Pro Line"
WAP200 & WAP200E
The WAP200 and WAP200E are sister products with the “E” variation being built for outdoor applications. With support for 802.11b and g, 10/100 Ethernet, Power of Ethernet (PoE) support and RangeBooster technology built in, these two products are a good introductory wireless AP offering. The external variation includes lighting protection and a weather resistant casing.
The WET200 is different from the other products covered in this article as it functions as an Ethernet bridge. With support for 802.11b and g, the WET200 offers the ability to connect two "hard to wire" locations together by "bridging" between two WET200s. Each WET200 offers five 10/100 Ethernet ports and includes support for all current wireless encryption standards including WPA and WPA2. The WET200 also includes support for PoE.
The WAP2000 has all the features of the WAP200 line with some additions. The WAP2000 provides the ability to have dual redundant firmware images in case of firmware corruption and the WAP2000 has a metal casing making it slightly more durable then its smaller counterpart. The WAP2000 also has a 3 dBi antenna gain (the WAP200 has 2 dBi gain), giving it additional range.
The WAP4410N provides another step up with the support of 802.11n (2.4 GHz) on top of the support for 802.11b and g. The WAP4410N also sports a gigabit Ethernet port for its connection into the wired network as well as IPv6 host support, allowing it to be managed using IPv6.
The AP541N offers an additional big step up with support for a number of features that are required by slightly larger small sized businesses. The AP541 supports the 802.11a, b, g and n standards; however, while the AP541 supports both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, it only allows one band to be supported at the same time. What this means is that it supports either 802.11a and n or 802.11b, g, and n at the same time.
The AP541N business features include clustering support. A number of AP541N’s can be clustered together in a configuration group and be managed via one location. Each of these are then able to communicate to optimize the variety of wireless settings (including channel and radio configurations) that provide better non-interfering wireless coverage.
Access Point Features
The major features to look for in an access point include the wireless standards supported, what wireless bands are supported, 802.1q VLAN support, 802.1p support, wireless modes support and automatic channel detection. Table 1 reviews which of these features is supported by Cisco’s offerings, along with information on other feature support.
|Wireless Bands||2.4 GHz||2.4 GHz||2.4 GHz||2.4 GHz||2.4 GHz||2.4 GHz|
|Wireless Modes||AP/Repeater/Bridge||AP/Repeater/Bridge||Client||AP/Repeater/Bridge||AP/Repeater/ Bridge, Client||AP/Repeater/ Bridge, Client|
|Auto Channel Detection||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|# of SSID’s||4||4||0||4||4||16|
|# of Ethernet Ports||1||1||5||1||1||1|
There are four major devices which are currently being offered by Cisco as SMB wireless routers. These include:
The WRV210 offers 802.11 b and g, 4-10/100 Ethernet ports, and RangeBooster support. The WRV210 also has a built SPI firewall and Denial-of-Service protection.
The RV120W is another entry level wireless router option, but with support for 802.11b, g and n. The RV120W includes 4-10/100 Ethernet ports, “virtual” networking capabilities, a stateful firewall (SPI) and built-in IPSec hardware acceleration.
The RV220W offering builds on the features provided by the RV120W and adds some additional functionality. The RV220W includes 4-10/100/1000 ports, support for ‘hybrid’ VPN (which includes support for both IPSec and SSL VPN’s), a SPI firewall and support for Cisco ProtectLink web security. The RV220W also offers IPv6, including support for Dual-stack IPv4 and IPv6, 6-to-4, Stateless address auto-configuration, and DHCP v6.
The WRVS4400N offers 802.11b, g, and n wireless support with built in Intrusion Prevention (IPS). This IPS functionality is able to scan traffic “on-the-fly” and block most common worms, trojans and DoS attack attempts. The WRVS4400N also supports Cisco’s ProtectLink service for additional protection.
Wireless Router Features
The major features to look for in a wireless router include the wireless standards supported, what wireless bands are supported, number of Ethernet Ports, Stateful Firewall (SPI) support, VPN Support, and IPS support. Table 2 reviews which of these features is supported by Cisco’s offerings along with information on other feature support.
|Wireless Bands||2.4 GHz||2.4 GHz||2.4 GHz||2.4 GHz|
|# of Ethernet Ports||4-10/100, 1-10/100 (WAN)||4-10/100/1000, 1-10/100/1000 (WAN)||4-10/100, 1-10/100(WAN)||4-10/100/1000, 1-10/100/1000 (WAN)|
|VPN Support||IPSec(10)- (3DES/AES)||IPSec(25)/SSL(5) - (DES/3DES/AES)||IPSec (10) – (3DES/AES)||IPSec (5) – (3DES)|
|WDS||Yes (2)||Yes (4)||Yes (3)||Yes (2)|
|# of SSID’s||4||4||4||4|
|# of Active Clients||64||64||32||Unknown|
There are many manufactures and wireless options available in the SMB market. Cisco offers a wide range of wireless options for small and medium sized business from a company with a solid history of hardware, software and support.
Cisco Wireless Certifications
Following is information on the Cisco Wireless certification track. This track includes the CCNA Wireless, CCNP Wireless and CCIE Wireless certifications.